Happy Valentine’s Day & Hats Off to Women’s Horror Month

Roses from Ishmael

Ishmael thought the flowers would be a nice touch. Roses were her favorite, red roses to be exact. These were slightly black around the edges and void of fragrance, but they were roses nonetheless.

“You’re not old enough to remember when roses had a smell are you?” he asked the cashier as he handed her a twenty dollar bill.

“No sir, I guess not.” She replied handing him a rumpled one along with thirteen cents in change.

“I bet you’re not even old enough to buy beer.” He said tucking the flowers under his arm. The young woman gave a weary smirk and he shoved the change into his coat pocket. “I guess it doesn’t matter as long as you’re old enough to sell it.” Ishmael yanked the eighteen pack of Bud Light from the counter and strolled to his truck.

Just outside of the city limits he reached across the seat and twisted the first cap off of a tepid bottle. The clanking of the glass was comforting and the warm beer eased the queasiness in his stomach. He downshifted and let the black Chevy pull itself along the narrow country lane as he sipped the Bud and drank in the scenery.

The summer heat had taken a toll on the coastal Bermuda that waved its browned tops as he drove past. Ishmael nodded and gestured back, feeling a kinship. But relief was on the way, the weatherman said as much when he interrupted the radio host to announce tornado warnings in effect until eight o’clock this evening.

As he pulled into the drive he sucked the last bit of suds from the third bottle, took a deep breath and sighed.

Her car was parked in the usual place. He felt hopeful, nervously adjusting the flowers and dusting the fallen petals to the floorboard before popping a wintergreen disc into his mouth.

The mint clung to his cheek like paste as he gagged; the stench of evergreen caused him to heave with panic. A mouth full of juniper berries was an unpleasant memory to say the least.

His tongue swept his mouth in search of spit. After several frantic jabs his lips gathered to form weak whistle and he forced the disk from his mouth. The candy landed with indifference and Ishmael kicked at the dusty drive covering it and his boot in a fine white powder.

“Honey I’m home.” He called from the kitchen. “Arianna? Sweetheart? Are you here?” he spoke gently as he made is way toward the guest bedroom.

The squishing of his boots on wet carpet went unnoticed, much like her silent cries.

“You’re in there aren’t you?” He asked pressing his hand to door. “Speak to me, please?” Ishmael ran his fingers across the buckled paint and continued, “Ari- I’m sorry. You have to believe I never meant to hurt you. You believe me don’t you?”

Ishmael’s statement was honest but how could she believe him? He knew how she loved her perfect house; how hard she had worked to make the quaint space a home. He knew too that it was him she loved, only him but jealousy blinded him to the fact.

“I was only trying to make a point… a stupid point I know but I never struck the match Arianna. It was an accident. Can you forgive me?”

A sharp snap came from the other side of the door and his heart dropped. He made his way back to the kitchen and tossed the roses into Tuesday’s dishwater.

How many Tuesdays had passed? Her silence set a new record. She had never shunned him so long and the guilt that urged him to buy the flowers – the same remorse he felt every time he lost his temper was quickly being replaced by irritation; an all too familiar annoyance building in the pit of his stomach. It would simmer there until it bubbled over and rumbled through his empty gut, lapping against raw nerves, reviving memories of every rejection and hurt feeling he had ever known.

Ishmael felt the heat rise in his face and throb in his ears as he gripped the counter to steady his frame. Trembling he strained to recall what the therapist had taught him. It was not working. The only happy thoughts he owned were of her and they had been supplanted by unbearable memoirs, images of unforgiving eyes. Her eyes once bright and smiling now flamed and pierced him with accusations. The same eyes that gave him comfort now cut him to the bone. She had a way of doing that – shaming a man without a word and shame was a thing he hated.

He had been ashamed for as long as he could remember. Even as a small boy, before he had ever heard the word or perceived its definition – he felt it. He ate shame for breakfast and bathed in it before going to bed each night. He knelt on it as he said his prayers and iced his beer in it and sometimes he hid it in a bundle of flowers. Yes shame was his unfaltering companion, the one sure thing he could count on.

Jutting his face toward the heavens he prayed and waited for an answer.

Oblivious to the first drops that landed Ishmael continued to pray. As the rain drenched his upturned face, mingling with his tears he steadied his breath and waited for an answer, an absolution that refused to come. Instead the wind swirled in the open roof above him showering his blistered face with twigs and scorched bits of fiberglass, a foul reminder of things that could not be undone.

“Am I beyond forgiveness?” He pleaded toward the thundering sky. “Will you always be angry with me?”

Ishmael tried to stoop amongst the debris, to kneel if for no other reason than sheer exhaustion but the charred drywall held his fists.

“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!” he croaked, his throat too dry to scream

“Damn you Arianna!” He cursed through cracked lips, unable to summon any moisture, unable to summon anything. Not so much as a heave could he muster from the memory of juniper on an elementary playground. He would now welcome the kicks of a bully in canvas sneakers, the scratching of coarse pungent needles against his face and the bitterness of their berries.

Ishmael heard the machines approaching; he could hear the men talking just prior to the wall landing. They used words like ‘total loss’, ‘unsalvageable’ and ‘condemned’. Words he had come to terms with, things no amount of roses in the world could fix.

He laid his head against the sooty timber that permanently fixed him and asked once again, “Arianna? Ari-honey… are you here?” and again she refused to answer.

Happy Valentines Day to you all and hats off to the women who dare to write horror.

Door Number Four (Tuesday’s Tell-All)


Donald S. Crowley was a CPA by day; a bean counter; a number cruncher and a certified bore. By night he was as stimulating as the hero in his latest read with all the social skills of a brick and to make matters worse he was in love with a door. Not just any door, number four was special. Her alluring smile had caught Donald’s eye when he was just a boy and she called him by name. Despite years of therapy and medications she still called to him. Now he would risk his life to see her again and to finally know what lay behind Door Number IIII.

It is hard to believe Door Number Four was published over six years ago. Wow! That means I am six years older and [probably] none the wiser.

Four years ago this month Door Number Four was published in audio. Another wow! I could have earned a Bachelors degree in that 48 months or sailed around the world a few times.

Oh well…

I can’t accurately account for the years that have passed but I can tell you when I think of Door Number Four (or IIII) I am still proud of this quirky, surreal, sci-fi love story. It still intrigues me. And secretly I would love to see it in film.

I was digging in my archives for another project when I happened upon this narration sample of Door Number Four narrated by Christopher Lane.

I confess I still giggle a little when I listen to it.


Don Crowley cursed the noisy autumn leaves beneath his feet. No matter how lightly he tread on the foliage it crackled and hissed, mocking his every step, his very existence.

Another truth, sometimes when I meander through the woods picking berries, soul-searching or conversing with the wild animals, I wonder what really became of Donald S. Crowley. And sometimes…

Sometimes I think I hear Tetra seductively calling to him. “Donald, come.”

*Available wherever e-books are sold.

A Year in Pictures

A Look Back at 2018

I wasn’t very productive as far as writing [or marketing] goes but I made a few memories and I ain’t mad about that. 😀

Some of the books got a new cover, you can see them here if you’re so inclined, or you can look at a few of my pictures from 2018.

Man that flew by. Oh well…

Hasta la vista 2018, I’ll be back & here’s wishing all of YOU a HaPpY 2019!!

Waiting (Mad Monday – Tis the Season)

The lines are long this time of year. So while you are waiting take a peek at this past post.

Yeah, that was December 2012 and a lot of folks are still waiting.

And look at this cat while you’re here. Just look at her!

Maddie Matilda! Ha! As if she had a legitimate reason to be mad. Oh, I forgot, cats don’t need a reason.

Hmph. Tis the season…

Merry Christmas y’all. 🎄

It’s Harvest Time …

…And time to gather your copy of Feast or Famine (The Sharecropper’s Son)

The original cover–a photo of the real sharecropper. Preview compliments of Amazon.
The new/current cover. Click this lovely cover and get a copy at your favorite e-book retailer.
Thank you to my husband and the Hill family for sharing their history and graciously allowing me artistic liberties.

XoXo